A Eulogy for Neil Peart: We Have Assumed Control

When I think of Neil Peart and the band Rush, the biggest adjective that resonates in my mind is the word, Apollonian. Not only due to their knack of borrowing heavily from Greek Mythology but just the amount of diligence every member paid to their respected craft. It is fitting to categorize them with the god of poetry and music. Unlike the band The Doors and a large portion of their Dionysian cohorts, Rush were orderly and dedicated to their art. Their music spanned over four decades. When I think of Rush I think of some of the happiest times of my life. Just hanging out with all my Wyoming homies shooting the shit and most importantly and implicitly just being young. For me there was a basal, quixotic invulnerability and belief of potential that fanned hotter and brighter listening to Rush songs. There was something positive that was going to happen in my life or the world. I believed in my imagination and the strength of my youth, I didn’t ever think I’d fall into a “ticking trap” like Peart warned of in Subdivisions. Back then I believed in the power of rock’n roll and in all that freedom of the eternal party….
I was really late to recognize the genius of Rush and Neil Peart in my life. With my interests lying disproportionately in hyper, testosterone laden speed metal, punk rock, and hardcore music, I often ridiculed Geddy Lee’s sopranic range. Unfortunately, most of the songs that I was exposed to back then were the “hits” played on the radio. I mostly pigeon-holed the band Rush with their schmaltzy ballad, “Closer to the Heart” , or the extortionate amount of radioplay given to major chord dominant songs like “Spirit of the Radio,” “New World Man”, and “The Big Money” into the same unremarkable corner that I reserved for Lynyrd Skynyrd, Nazareth, and that ilk. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I remember often times arguing with my friends about just how bad they sucked. Kinda funny looking back on my salad days. I was definitely an opinionated little punk. Today as I type this email and take intermittent hits off my cannabis pipe, I am listening to the full album “Hemispheres.” And at just a cursory listening, it has all the paradoxical qualities I have correlated to this enigmatic band over the years, The vocals are too high pitched, and the riffs are too rock’n rollesque. But upon closer listen, Lee’s iconic Rickenbacker bass tone, the band’s seamless chord progressions, byzantine time signatures and the exceptional percussion of Peart resonates through and through. And of course the true gem: Peart’s lyrics. One example is, Peart’s story of “Cygnus X-1 Book II: Hemispheres. He masterly writes and concludes a sci fi saga of a spaceship getting sucked into a parallel Greek Mythological universe via a black hole and the ensuing struggle between Apollonian and Dionysian populations. The protagonist is metaphorically named Cygnus (after the constellation of the same appellate) which means balance. Ironically it’s his presence thrusted into this parallel world that brings about a balance between the order and chaos of the warring societies.  Other songs like, “Losing It” and “The Trees” transude a sentience and empathetic point of view not often evinced in a rock song. The first time I really heard the song, “Trees” was back when my friend Kelly was learning, it on acoustic guitar. And even though back then I wasn’t a huge fan of the music I absolutely adored the lyrics. The instrumental song, “La Villa Strangiato” still tops out as one the biggest wet dreams of guitarists and prog rockers everywhere.

The first time I ever heard the band Rush was when my brother obtained a copy of Moving Pictures on vinyl .He was probably sixteen and I was thirteen. I remember him cranking “Tom Sawyer” through his 15″ Pioneer speakers on Sunday mornings after my parents left for church. I was unfortunately enveloped mostly in the music of my mother. And even though back then I would have preferred Christopher Cross’s, “Ride Like the Wind” or the song, “Convoy” by CW Mccall, I still remember the sheer sonic strength of that song and Rush’s magic. The song that finally won me over however was the iconic “Subdivisions. Me and my boyfriend had a few shots of whiskey and shared some epiphanic tears last night regaling in memories of listening to Rush. Still one of my all time favorite Rush songs,  “Subdivisions” speaks so much to the marginalised and disenchanted. Rush’s lyrical breadth and sheer depth of material covered an incredible expanse of subject, philosophy, science, mysticism, and wisdom. In one of Peart’s most recent interviews he discussed his legacy and the importance of inspiration and inspiring others…. Judging from the thousands of YouTube comments on every Rush song in the past few days after his death and outpouring of appreciation spanning multiple generations; it is almost too much to fathom. I’d offer Peart’s mission of inspiration and his legacy is most certainly realized. 
Somehow with Peart’s passing, the  militarized beats of drum machines, computers, autotuned vocals, and samples have replaced the genius of live drums and the interplay and nuanced and the organic syncopation between bass and drums like Lee and Peart’s chemistry. It seems most bands I come across either at live shows or as Pandora suggestions are all just derivatives of derivatives and facsimiles of a better band and a better time. I just don’t see any lyrics from bands these days that could convey entire nuanced stories of dystopian societies, struggles between trees, the dehumanizing effects of conurbations, mass production zones, and the death of individuality.  
To quote the song, “Solar Federation,”, 
Attention all planets of the solar federation
Attention all planets of the solar federation
Attention all planets of the solar federation
We have assumed control
We have assumed control
We have assumed control.
Peart is dead. 
Rock is dead. 

The shitters have won. 

Published by subversopus

I am a loveable and squeezable poet and writer. I live in beautiful Oregon with my cat and boyfriend. I love long distance hiking and have completed the entire lengths of the Appalachian Trail (2002, 2014) The Pacific Crest Trail (2012) and the Continental Divide Trail in (2013). Please check out my blog, ThetigressAwakens.wordpress.com and my poetry only blog, Everydayoneironaut.wordpress.com. Cheers and have a kick ass day!!!

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